Saturday, June 29, 2013

Social Circles

Photo by Aleshia Clarke

An interesting group of people caught my attention last week. As most of you know, I have an acute interest in social science as a generalist (never did get that Master's Degree). I have been educated in personality theory and application through the use of psychological tests. I knew I was an INFJ according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® personality inventory. This basically means I'm the quiet, thoughtful type who seeks meaning in life, has concerns for mankind, and values the need for social justice.

What I did not realize, is there is an entire subculture of INFJ's or other personality types. Some are bloggers or peace activists, and they have an organized online social presence. They proudly list famous people who share the same personality traits; for example, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi. On the other side of the coin, Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, and Robert Mugabe share the INFJ traits. Does this mean we can be almost exactly alike, but either "good" or "evil?" It sure looks like that may be the case.

My daughter is an ISTJ, which means that unlike me, she is very methodic about her daily routine and she relies on facts more than feelings (she studies Molecular Genetics). She and I are very similar, as a matter of fact...I used to be an ISFJ when I was younger. Personality is fluid; it can have slight variation from one week to the next. I'm likely to test differently based on whether I am under pressure to meet deadlines at work, or relaxing at the beach on my annual vacation. In my case, going through the major life changing event of a divorce was the catalyst for changing my ST to an NF.

I also learned that many INFJ's, myself included, are also HSP's - Highly Sensitive Persons. Fascinating stuff, wouldn't you agree? If you would like to learn more about these analytical psychology concepts, which are based on the work of Carl Jung, check out the following websites:

The Myers & Briggs Foundation
The Highly Sensitive Person

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Unveiling my new blog: Aleshia's Angle

You may have noticed that I always have an endless list of "projects" in progress. My compulsion stems from a long history of working in the hectic field of human services. The "lack of funding" always insures that there are never enough qualified staff to provide adequate services. I responded to the dilemma by learning the art of "effective efficiency." It gave me an ethical way to meet the demands of management without sacrificing the needs of clientele.

Long story short: I take multitasking to the extreme. My career has created a psychopathology in me, in the form of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, adult onset - employee type (self-diagnosed, of course)!

My "recovery plan" consists of putting all of that excess energy to work using a cognitive-behavioral therapeutic modality. I made a list of my primary objectives, which incidentally happen to be literary in nature:

  • journaling my personal experiences
  • composing creative written works 
  • improving my literary skills
  • contributing to the social sciences 
  • selling a few pieces to pay the bills

To these ends, I have decided that I need yet another blog; one that has a more serious, academic tone. It is a non-partisan social commentary highlighting issues that affect all of us from a sociology point of view. The blog is called Aleshia's Angle, and I would love to present your "angle" too! I hope you will stop by, and if it interests you, I am going to begin accepting guest blog proposals. There are 5 requirements to have a guest post published on my new blog:

  2. topic is within the realm of the social sciences
  3. post demonstrates insight on the issues facing a modern society 
  4. the piece is well-written according to high quality publishing standards
  5. writers must respond to visitor comments in a timely fashion

If you are interested, you can find my contact information on the "About Me" page of my new blog. Please understand that I am unable to financially compensate contributors at this time. However, I will promote your work among various social media. Please include your byline in the proposal, and include a copy of all attributed photos that will accompany the post.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer in the Finger Lakes of NY

Photos by Aleshia Clarke
Photos by Aleshia Clarke

I'm beginning to believe that it is REALLY JUNE here in the beautiful Finger Lakes of New York. For the past few weeks it has RAINED and RAINED, then RAINED some more! Fortunately, we had at least one day of SUNSHINE each week. Nevertheless, we were quite WATERLOGGED for awhile up here!

In between CUTTING GRASS and building the ARK (just kidding :), we took the boat out to SENECA LAKE. We also tinkered in our FLOWER BEDS.

Being "SNOWBIRDS," we have to take care of all those pesky ANNUAL MEDICAL issues: dental cleanings, eye glasses, physical checkups, etc. This is quite a challenge with 3 adults sharing ONE CAR! I think we have gone to about 15 auto DEALERSHIPS within the last 3 weeks, but have yet to find the perfect vehicle for our daughter (cheap, low miles, automatic transmission, no rust).

I hope you enjoy the photos taken during the BRIGHTEST DAYS of JUNE here in the BIG APPLE!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Whirlwind Weeks!

Time goes by really fast when there is work to do. We have finally moved into our "summer" home, which has been scrubbed clean from top to bottom. I cannot believe a month has already passed since our return to New York. The motor home will still get plenty of use as we travel closer to home for "recreational" purposes. Emmie's boyfriend will spend the next four days living in it while he visits her (yes, more cleaning to do).

It has been raining nearly every day for two weeks up here. I've been working on literary submissions whenever I can spare a few minutes on writing. Next week, I must return to gainful employment (writing for money) to save up for the next grand adventure.

I did take a break from the drudgery to attend a family reunion picnic, which thankfully took place in favorable weather. I have heard that it will be warm and sunny starting tomorrow, and throughout the rest of the week. I do hope this is true so we can take a ride on our bikes!

Thanks to those of you who commented on my "riddle" post. You had some great guesses! The correct answer is "a rogue scholar," one who rejects learned knowledge in favor of quick profit. He sells false expertise for fame and fortune, but over time he gives up his academic focus, professional discipline and reasoning capacity. He loses the ability to contribute anything of value to society and becomes foolishly ignorant. This was actually one of several ideas I had to submit in a tanka poetry contest. I decided to send in a different poem, but this one was just too good to waste.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Riddle :)

Picture Credit: Aleshia Clarke

Saturday, June 1, 2013

RV Living: The Journey Continues

A leaky window in the midst of a terrifying thunderstorm dampened our second night in Port Orange, Florida. Jim quickly repaired it while our dog Charlie was being comforted on my lap. Our cat Buddy stayed calm throughout the ordeal, happily settled in after two long weeks on the road. The rest of the week was went well as we explored our new neighborhood. With temperatures in the upper eighties, the campground pool was an oasis from the sweltering October heat, although big, scary insects often bobbed around on the buoy divider. Everyone in the campground was super friendly - we were going to fit in very well here.

Marye, our new friend as well as the campground office manager, graciously let us tag along whenever she ran errands. We avoided driving the motor home with its 9.8 miles per gallon of gas, as well as the issue of unhooking everything. We soon learned that interesting and unique people ride public busses, but I felt confident having pepper spray tucked discreetly away in my purse. Jim took the scooter out occasionally for short distance trips. Tired of feeling confined, I bought a bicycle after a few weeks, and had a blast zipping around town with it. Jim followed suit soon after. We outfitted our wheels with handlebar baskets and carried backpacks for additional storage space. We still used the bus for longer trips. The only downside to our modes of transportation was not being able to travel after dusk.

Our daughter Emmie had her college freshman meltdown shortly after we arrived. She was working at her first paying job in a campus cafĂ© when a co-worker fell, gashed his hand, and was rushed to the hospital. Her stress level was already high due to her roommate’s personality and behavior - they were completely opposite to Emmie's quiet, studious ways. I found out later that the roommate had no inhibitions whatsoever, and my daughter had been avoiding the little vixen's frequent overnight male visitors, by sleeping on the floor of a friend’s room. I was livid about the "education" my girl was getting, and the fact that we were spending $7000 a year for a room that Emmie was afraid to sleep in. I seriously considered booking a flight and bringing her down to Florida, but she wanted to stay in New York near her friends. Against my better judgment, I agreed to let her handle the situation on her own, as an adult.

We never left our 14 year old boys alone in the camper for too long, and we always made sure the air conditioner was on in our absence. Buddy and Charlie enjoyed being outside on their harnesses, but Buddy got scared if we walked too far away from the camper. I don't think he understood why the scenery kept changing as trailers pulled in or out. Charlie was a campground favorite, especially with the children. They loved his quirky walk. Buddy suffered from a long-term inflammatory bowel condition that flared up occasionally, so I was always worried about his health. Thankfully, the Biketoberfest motorcycles didn't traumatize him, although the notoriously rowdy Bike Week was scheduled in February.

Apparently, Floridian employers don’t like hiring "snowbirds." I was confident about finding a job with my impressive resume, and I had done my research on the job market prior to the trip. After applying for over 50 jobs, I was finally hired for a seasonal retail position. This was not exactly my intention, but I couldn't find a per diem counseling job without a Florida drivers license. On my third day of merchandise handling, I got sick from riding my bike to work in the cool, humid mornings. I couldn’t speak or swallow by the sixth day, so I took a taxi up to the primary care clinic. Thanks to the medicine, I survived the hot, physical labor while working the following 10 days in a row.

We had reservations for a dinner and cruise down in the New Smyrna Beach inter-coastal waterway the day after Hurricane Sandy arrived. Even though the rain had stopped, the ocean surf was extremely rough, but Marye convinced us that river would be calm. It was dusk by the time dinner ended, then we boarded the boat. We were having such a fun time when the captain made us sit down and hold on tight. He took us out near the ocean jetty at full speed to see (and feel) the huge crashing waves – never in my life have I been so terrified, yet so thrilled at the same time!

The holidays were strange with temperatures in the seventies, and we felt the absence of our extended family. Thanksgiving dinner was spent in the rec-hall among people we hardly knew. Marye put lots of effort into Christmas planning, and we helped "adopt a family" of seven who were currently living in a hotel room. The father was a maintenance employee at the campground. JC Penney was having a promotion where you could collect cute little decorated buttons from the cashiers for a chance to win prizes or cash discounts. We went every day for our buttons, which were later strung as a decoration for our table top tree. On Christmas morning, we awoke early and followed a marshmallow trail to the rec hall. What a delightful time we had watching the kids open their presents of toys and clothes - all purchased at a discount thanks to those buttons! Later on, we enjoyed a lovely brunch at the Golden Corral followed by a charming movie at the local cinema.

On December 27th, we picked Emmie up at the airport for her semester break. She loved the campground. After relaxing by the pool for a few days, we took her to Daytona Beach Shores, the flea market, and the International Speedway area. Marye arranged a tour bus trip to Port Canaveral for a casino cruise ship adventure. It was a wonderful experience, and Emmie won $75! Our "adopted" daughter, Jaynie arrived from Pennsylvania the following week. We rented a car and took the girls to Orlando, where we spent two days hanging out at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. The 19 year old girls enjoyed the roller coasters, purchased a ton of souvenirs, and delightfully drank their butter-beer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

We settled into our routine once again after Emmie and Jaynie flew back home. I decided to try my hand at freelance writing to supplement Jim's retirement income. Surprisingly, I sold articles for cash with minimal effort. Jim and I also did "odd jobs" for various people in the campground whenever an opportunity arose (shopping for an elderly woman, selling coffee and bagels, etc.). Our estimated living expenses were significantly less than we had expected - thank the Lord! As an added bonus, my unemployment qualified our daughter for financial aid the next year. We finally stopped worrying about our finances.

Then the unexpected happened. On Valentine's Day morning, Jim awoke to find Buddy was sleeping on Charlie's back. Even more peculiar; Charlie didn't mind. Buddy seemed somewhat "sluggish," but Jim had a dental surgery appointment, so we decided to call a vet afterwards. The surgery took nearly two hours. Upon our return, as I frantically tried to contact a vet, Buddy took his final breaths. He was cremated the next morning. My world turned very dark for the next two weeks as I grieved the loss of my dear, sweet, old friend.

See Part I of The Journey:

The journey Into RV living, as Snowbirds

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